One could say “I Will Always Love You” is Whitey Houston‘s signature song. Either that or “Greatest Love of All.”
It turns out, however, that Patti LaBelle was going to sing “I Will Always Love You” first, but it didn’t work out that way. The cut was written by Dolly Parton in 1973 and released one year later. Houston then sang it for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” which she starred in with Kevin Costner.
“Dolly Parton offered it to me before ‘The Bodyguard,’ and I said to Dolly, ‘Oh, yes. I want to do that song, honey,'” said LaBelle when she stopped by “Watch What Happens Live” on Monday.
But the Philly-born singer didn’t give Parton a hard yes about the song, then before she knew it Houston put vocals to it.
“Before I could say real yes it was in the movie, and Whitney killed it,” LaBelle explained. “I haven’t done it since Whitney, but I plan to put it in my show one day. But I was so happy that Whitney got that song and it went like it did, but Dolly Parton and I had planned. ‘Patti, you gon’ sing that song’ … That’s how show business is.”
Houston’s version of the song spent a total of 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 charts.
And in the year 2000, the late singer talked about how she decided to sing “I Will Always Love You” for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack and admitted that she initially passed on it.
“We heard Dolly Parton’s song before, and I went by it because it was a country version and we wasn’t listening,” said Houston. “Kevin brought it back to me in the trailer one day and said, ‘I’m telling you, this is the song.’ I cleared the trailer, and I listened to the song and it hit me. … I can’t go anywhere without singing ‘I Will Always Love You.'”
Houston — who was recently nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — was pronounced dead in 2012 after she was found in a hotel bathtub in Beverly Hills, California.
And the words “I Will Always Love You” are written on her tombstone.